Councils play a leading role in ensuring that Scotland embraces pollinator-friendly approaches. With an intimate knowledge of their local patch there are few better qualified to provide the food, shelter and nesting sites that our hard pressed pollinators need. In East Dunbartonshire that’s certainly the case, as Gillian Telfer explains
It would be fair to say that wildflower meadow creation is expanding on an annual basis in East Dunbartonshire, to the extent where it mainstream in our biodiversity approach. We are very aware that pollinators, and bumblebees in particular, have seen the areas where they can find food and nest drastically reduced. We are well placed to do something positive in this regard.
Since 2014 we have created over 18,500 square metres of meadows in 26 sites across East Dunbartonshire. Jackie Gillespie in our team has been the Project Officer for this work and her knowledge, enthusiasm and love of meadows has been a critical driving force in this work.
Of all the meadows we have created recently the largest is our 3,000 square metre Cluny Park project. Creating a meadow is challenging and not simply a case of sowing seed. The very composition of the ground, the qualities of the soil and management of a meadow all come into play. At Cluny Park we were looking to create a meadow on what was difficult, compacted wet ground. That was back in 2016 and now we can say it has been a success. In 2017 we were delighted to note that we had five species of bumblebee present, including Scotland’s most recent addition – the tree bumblebee.
We trialled a couple of methods – the wildflower turf rolls, and soil which is supplied with the seeds already in place. Both have been successful, but where the wildflower turf has scored is on being a method that allows us to provide an almost instant meadow in high profile and well used urban areas.
To commemorate The Great War we created some poppy meadows and these joined our pictorial meadows which were a mixture of annual and perennial projects. We recognise that this approach isn’t entirely native but these meadows did flourish and provided a welcome nectar and pollen source for a wide variety of insects.
One really satisfying development for us has been raising awareness of the biodiversity value of ‘stretches’ of flowers. On our main roundabouts and major arterial routes we have sown both perennial and annual meadows and these strips have helped raise awareness of the value of ‘non-manicured’ areas in the quest to help our vital pollinating insects. Like a lot of councils we have to make sure our residents know that this isn’t about letting a landscape go wild, but rather managing things in a sustainable and healthy fashion.
Tackling roadside verges is also an opportunity to deliver improvements in the air quality of our district. Air quality is something which is very much in the news these days. We have worked with Environmental Health colleagues to improve Air Quality in Bearsden through trapping Particulate Matter (PM10) in our wildflower meadows and to date this has taken the form of 1,000 square metres of land being improved and there are plans to double that amount in the coming years.
Finally our work with local schools is extremely important if we are to deliver something more than short-term successes. To this end we have worked with local primary schools pupils to create wildflower habitats as part of the John Muir Pollinator Way and we will continue to keep an eye open for opportunities to work with the education sector in East Dunbartonshire. Taking future generations on the journey to an improved environment is something we recognise the long term value of.
Being proactive is the key to making a sustainable impact and whilst we are not resting on our laurels we think we have some good news stories in East Dunbartonshire to celebrate, and we will be looking for more of the same in the coming years. That’s good for everyone living in the area and great for our pollinators.
Further reading is available in the following links –